Michael Cook3, a Toms River attorney who lost a bid for the State Assembly last year, has announced an exploratory committee for a possible bid for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 3rd district.
Cook pledged to spend the next few months testing the viability of his candidacy — but that may be too late. Andy Kim, a former national security aide in the Obama White House, appears to be on track to win party support for his challenge to two-term Republican U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River). Cook says he won’t run without the backing of Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp.
“I’m not a candidate for the Democratic nomination until and unless the party decides to support me,” Cook said. “The exploratory effort will build on my continuous work over the past two years, when I ran for Ocean County Freeholder and Assembly in the 10th district, but will be broadened to include Burlington County.”
Cooke lost his Assembly bid by 14,479 votes, and his 2016 Freeholder race by 74,110 votes. He also established an exploratory committee for Congress in 2016, but instead ran for county office.
“What I’ve learned from my two prior campaigns is that there is no substitute for engaging in person with as many people in the district as possible and listening to their concerns,” Cooke said. “The party needs to make new friends and to re-engage with our traditional supporters.”